July 31, 2009 CONTACT: Gary Eckenberg, Deputy Administrator
St. Louis County Courthouse
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Duluth, MN 218-726-2447
St. Louis County Achieves ADA Compliance Certification
from U.S. Department of Justice
In celebration and recognition of the 19th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the St. Louis County Board will proclaim August, 2009 as ADA month in St. Louis County. Several county departments and employees will be honored for the dedicated and conscientious efforts over the last four years that have resulted in the St. Louis County being recognized as the first county in the state of Minnesota to receive the United States Department of Justice ADA Compliance Certification. (The only other jurisdiction in Minnesota to achieve compliance is Mantorville, MN (pop. 1,149), located 14 miles west of Rochester.)
St. Louis County was contacted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in October, 2004 to participate in “Project Civic Access”. Project Civic Access is an exercise to ensure that all county facilities, curbs, roadways, and sidewalks available for use by the general the public, and owned by the county, are in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. With more than 3,000 miles of roadways and over 170 buildings (some built more than 100 years ago), spread across 7,000 square miles of geography, this was no small task. ADA compliance also includes law enforcement activities, employment inquiry access, web site access, awareness training for every county employee, public grievance procedures, telephone accommodations, courtroom equipment, parking areas, and computer accommodations.
The ADA requirements cover the entire spectrum of physical disabilities from sight impaired, hearing impaired, upper body mobility limitations, to the more apparent wheel chair access issues. The county and the U.S. Department of Justice partnered to draft a settlement agreement to include physical inspections by teams of DOJ staff and county staff for facilities, employment practices, electronic communication equipment, and reviews of all roads and sidewalks installed since 1990 when the ADA was enacted by Congress. St. Louis County worked with the DOJ to create a schedule that would allow for budgeting and implementation of the compliance process. In July of 2009, after over four years of dedicated work, and an investment of over $734,000 by county taxpayers, St. Louis County was deemed fully ADA compliant by the DOJ. This is an accomplishment the county is extremely proud of, as our goal is to be accessible to all of the public which we serve.
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